cover image The Popper Penguin Rescue

The Popper Penguin Rescue

Eliot Schrefer, illus. by Jim Madsen. Little, Brown, $16.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-316-49542-4

Inspired by the 1938 classic Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Schrefer imagines a Popper descendant accidentally taking up her ancestor’s mantle. Mrs. Popper, a recently separated parent facing economic hardship, moves her children, fifth-grader Joel and third-grader Nina, to a foreclosed-upon former penguin petting zoo in a town neighboring the original Mr. Popper’s Stillwater. Upon arrival, the children discover two abandoned penguin eggs, which soon hatch. The family decides to take the chicks to the Arctic, where Mr. Popper settled his famous brood, instead of their native Antarctica. Embarking upon their mission in a boat manned by Yuca, an Inuit doctoral student who transports them in his family’s fishing craft, they run aground in the Arctic and endure a blizzard in an abandoned caretaker’s hut. Stretching the bounds of realism, the old-fashioned story avoids complicated emotions (the children don’t give one thought to their absent father) while offering pleasing imagery (the penguins “pitched over like a set of bowling pins”) and solid information about penguins in equal measure. Bringing a contemporary conscience to its predecessor, the wholesome book champions respect for animals and environmental issues within the structure of a satisfying family adventure. Ages 8–12. [em]Author’s agent: Richard Pine, InkWell Management. (Oct.) [/em]